Developers have been mercilessly wringing the milk out of the license for three decades now. Star Wars and videogames go together like Han and Chewie, Luke and Mara, Tango and Cash. Let’s have a quick and in no way biased look at some of the good ones. And the bad ones. Nooooooooooooo…
Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
The Jedi Knight (formerly Dark Forces) series is wildly overdue a new instalment. More than any other game it chronicled perfectly the passage from lowly mook to powerful demigod Jedi. Jedi Outcast is arguably the finest, a Sisyphean trek through countless familiar and new territories, stuffed with bounty hunter scum and remnant Empire factions to slice up with gleeful aplomb. I once accidentally chopped off Luke Skywalker’s head in this too, so technically protagonist Kyle Katarn is the greatest Jedi ever.
Shadows Of The Empire
An admittedly dubious, yet personal choice. I’d imagine that for many, Shadows Of The Empire was a youngster’s first real introduction to Star Wars. It certainly was mine a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (1997), as I unwrapped an N64 with a copy of the game and Super Mario 64 (Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was still about 800 pounds at this point) at Christmas. Mario was all well and good but I wanted to shoot things, and SOTE, although hideously flawed, more than satisfied my pre-teen bloodlust. Because of this game, I still hold Dash Rendar in the same esteem as Han Solo. The obvious highlight of the game was the opening Battle of Hoth, a level that inspired…
Blimey this was good. Another N64 title (it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the N64 is the greatest console of all time), it dispensed with the weaker running and gunning in Shadows Of The Empire and concentrated on the sweet-ass piloting of rebel craft and the Imperial bottom kicking therein. I’m regrettably unfamiliar with the X Wing vs TIE Fighter series, so the Rogue Squadron series is the closest I get to the giddy thrill of commandeering an X-Wing, vicariously watching from the safety of the TV screen as poor old Jek Porkins is burned to a crisp. It spawned two fine sequels, and Rogue Squadron 3 even had the original arcade game from 1977 as a bonus. Nice guys.
Knights Of The Old Republic
Basically the best Star Wars related release in the last ten years. Eschewing the increasingly muddled modern fables in favour of an engaging tale taking place thousands of years before, it won unanimous praise for crafting a world that was familiar, yet different enough to not be associated with the dayglo misery of Lucas’ wild latter-day hubris. Many a time I’d start it up with the intention of having a one or two hour blast, shrieking in horror as I later saw the clock had just struck 2am. The sequel was good too and it spawned Mass Effect, so it’s a winner all around.
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Do you remember the bit in The Phantom Menace where Qui Gon got bored, pulled out a repeater and shot everyone, then accidentally side strafed into a chasm because mum had called him for dinner and distracted him? Me neither. Pishy third person brawler with the stupidest camera angle ever (it was almost vertically above your character, meaning you couldn’t see 6 feet in front of you) iffy graphics and insta-deaths everywhere. Absolute poodoo.
Masters Of Teras Kasi
They were really tekken the piss with this one. A messy, dreadful fighting game that pitted series favourites against each other in not so mortal kombat. The lightsaber was more like a mallet too, meaning you could just bonk people on the head rather than gracefully slice away. Soul Calibur IV semi updated this by adding Yoda and Darth Vader to its roster alongside the countless samurais and maidens with unnecessarily huge bosoms. Another character added was the apprentice from…
The Force Unleashed II
If ever a game summed up perfectly some developers blatant disregard for the state of franchise it’s this. Despite its inelegant shoehorning into the official canon, the first Force Unleashed was an enjoyable albeit simplistic hack and slash romp. Force Unleashed II in comparison was rushed, boring and took about four hours to get through. If it didn’t have the Star Wars license it’d be laughed right out the door, but a name and a sizeable market budget goes a long, long way. It’s maybe not completely terrible, but you can tell whoever developed it did so with an eye on the clock and a hand languidly scratching their backside. This still sold ok though. Meanwhile poor old masterpiece Shadows Of The Damned sold sod all. You people are messed up.
Playing silly buggers they were. Unplayable it was. Chucked down a well it should be etc.
Star Wars Complete Saga Blu-ray box set is available September 12 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, price £67.49, and SciFiNow’s collector’s edition Star Wars issue is available now from all good newsagents and online from the Imagineshop.